3 Pillars for Creative Work

Any project that you are trying for the first time is creative work. Cook a meal. Put up an art show. Start a business. It’s new, it’s hard, and if you are smart, you’d look around for advice.  

There are 3 kind of advices here and they are equally important.

1) Do you have the right tactics?
Is your knife sharp? Can you write a grant application? Can you give a presentation with authority? Can you carry out the strategy?

2) Do you have the right strategy?
Do you understand the macro forces at work? The music business was perfect until someone started sharing mp3 for free. The ice harvesting industry was very happy until the fridge came along.

3) Do you care enough to fail?
Imagine if Thomas Edison gave up on the third try, we might not have the light bulb today. Do you care enough to try, try and try again? Do you care enough to expand emotional labour (which is different from physical labour)?

Too often, we conflate the 3 things. So, we talk to the artist about caring more but it’s not going to help one bit. Because she cares too much and it’s getting in the way.

Or the friend who wants to quit smoking and you start telling him what to do. He knows what to do. He just doesn’t care enough.

A lot of “advice” we get (or give) are tactics. We end up pushing more in the same direction. Perhaps, we need to ask if what we really need are tactics. You won’t be surprised very often, but when you are, bingo.

Hat tips to Seth Godin for introducing the idea.


The photo was taken at the MRI room. It interesting to see the difference in room lighting for the patient and the staff.

The Broccoli test

Would you eat a plate of broccoli instead?

No salt, no sauce, just boiled broccolis.

If a plate is not enough, have one more. But no cheating, just broccoli.

If what you want are burger, fries, and a bad day cure, it is perhaps easier to admit that. And use it as a compass on the journey to a healthy lifestyle.

The work might be to avoid bad days or to find delicious and healthy alternatives. But it all starts with a plate of broccoli.

Yes, I Would Show Up

That is a dangerous promise. You have put yourself together with the possibilities of failure. You are on the hook to uphold your promise.

Consider the opposite. Don’t tell anyone before you solved the problem.

You get all credit without the risk. All the upside without the downside.

Authors don’t announce their book until it’s 90% done. Apple doesn’t reveal its new products until all the patents are filed.

Create a tension within yourself that propels action.

The next time you find a problem (or a complaint), that might be your treasure map, keep that a secret and start chipping away. Once ready, delight others with your solution. Soon, you would indispensable and don’t blame me when you are invited to the next secret ‘save the world’ gathering.


The photo was taken at the interview with the amazing Khailee Ng. We chatted about his visit to Necker island.

Gratitude 2018

It’s easy to forget about things to be grateful. I used to go on a morning walk, like an old man, and go through a list that I’m grateful about in my life. Life goes on and I forgot all about it.

Last week, I met with my primary school teacher, Mr Au. Over the years, he had a couple of bad accidents. He is now in the midst of recovering from a surgery. He mentioned that every time that he moves his arms – pins and needles will be sent down his entire arm.

I asked him: “How do you feel now?”. He answered: “Much better”.

I replied: “Well, that’s great!”. He responded: “but I still feeling a little pain and I have to stretch every now and then”.

I noticed how he kept focusing on the pain. Why isn’t he happy with his progress? Wouldn’t he be healed with time?

It got me thinking that it is easy to forget about the good things that happened. My health, my relationship, having no debt, air to breath and so much more.

Continue Reading

Dreams and Reality

I had an idea to live and work in a van.

I imagined all the nature that I would enjoy.

I gave my wedding studio away and spent the year building Sage Animation so that I can work from anywhere in the world.

In Oct, I flew to Las Vegas and bought a cargo van. I spent the next month building my own travelling home.

Randy lent me his tools. I found Nick and Alisa, who had just finished converting their van and they gave me great advice.

Every day, I tell myself: “I can’t wait to finish this and finally be able to live my dreams.”

Continue Reading